Monday, 13 February 2012

Power Elites Destroy Communities

The phrase "Power Elites Destroy Communities" seems a given because we all see others as the "Power Elite". They are the bankers, opinion formers and so in our society, and we can see the damage they do.
But actually they are often us, and the worst groups are "Resident Representative Groups" who form themselves into factions to assert their power over the area they live. Residents have the vote, if they are over 18 years of age, and through the ballot box they can assert influence, and between elections they can use the threat of the electoral power to influence outcomes. MP's and Councillors react swiftly to "Resident Representative Groups" demands for action, and as a consequence councils and other government administration respond to their demands.
Residents perceive that because they have invested in housing and chosen to live somewhere they are possession of the right to determine the characteristic of an area. Thus while the stakeholders in a viable community are both residential and commercial interests, it is only the residents who have a vote. Commerce may seek to represent their views, but at the end of the day it is only the residents who can cast a ballot. (Of course businesses can seek to influence politics through party donations)
Thus in an agro-industrial area where animals and plants are husbanded for food, and which provides employment across a complex economic chain, for their activities to be curtailed or suspended through resident action. With the trend to purchase country cottages among the urban wealthy, the prevalence of residents with no historic or economic connection with the agro-industrial economy has grown phenomenally. These inward migrant residents can then through the ballot box and through "Resident Representative Group" power seek to prevent the local agro-industrial enterprises (farms) from continuing their normal business activities if any aspect fo it has a negative impact upon the inward migrant residents' lives. Thus if the newcomers don't like the smell of cows and pigs wafting through their homes, they can demand that the council takes action.
One could of course ask why these people moved to an agro-industrial / country environment when they object to the smells or noises connected with these business concerns. Their counter is that it is their right to live as they wish and their choice is determined by their desire for "country" views. They overlook the fact that out countryside looks the way it does because of the agro-industrial / farming business concerns.
In the last few days an article was put out by a blogger in Liverpool regarding a complaint about noise from a music venue from an inner city resident. ( While the issues relating to this incident are not significant, what is significant is the reaction by Liverpool Council and the consequences for the venue.
In response to the complaint, the venue has had its entertainments license suspended and cannot stage any amplified music events. The particular venue has only ever had this single complaint against it. But a venue is not just a venue, it is ostensibly a production facility for entertainment that provides employment and attracts inward investment that shapes the nature of the city. Were for instance a factory to open its doors in the middle of the night and a dreadful noise poured out. to which the residents complained, the Council would certainly attend but they would prevent the factory from continuing production as it would threaten employment. But music and arts are not regarded in the same manner, because we assign them other values. Nevertheless nightclubs, bars and venues are places of production, and they cluster in places where there ancillary support services and transport infrastructure, just like any other industry. Late night venues also contirbute significantly to local economies as their customers often start the evening at other places such as bars, cafes and restaurants, where they spend a significant proportion of their money. These customers make a considerable contribution to the city economy and make some operations that the day-time economy relies upon viable. Yet despite the importance of venues to the character and viability fo city communities, they appear to have little power to influence local events.
Instead Power Elites composed of local residents, who most likely have chosen to live in the inner city environment, have the power to influence policy and demand that council officers curtail the activities of legitimate business interests, which have no vote. The inequity of this is considerable. Any city centre business owner can easily have invested far more of their personal wealth into the area than a home owner. They will have invested their skills and knowledge, and are likely to have created employment, unlike the homeowner. Their activities create wealth which in turn supports other enterprises, and thereby creates and sustains employment. Yet they have no formal means of expressing their views and ambitions, and seeking to obtain representation.
In Liverpool it is the entertainments industry that has been at the forefront of shaping the city and its atmosphere. It is this ambience that has been the catalyst for articulate and politically astute individuals to move into the city centre. Yet now through their application of their rights a business operation has had to suspend its activities, and cancel contracts. There is no interest among the "Resident" Power Elites for the consequences of their actions, and that some economically marginal music group has now lost the opportunity to perform and generate income. Power Elites don't care about anything but their own interests.
It is time for businesses, whether they be farms (agro-industrial concerns), factories or city centre venues to demand a modicum of equality and demand that inward residential migrants are not awarded the right to curtail the very business activities that have created the environment that attracted the inward migrant in the first place.

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